Raiders take fight out of Irish with 48-0 win

Raiders receiver Alex Copleland
Senior Alex Copeland rushes down the left sideline for six Raider points following a catch. Copeland led for Moore County with three touchdowns. (PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Reed)

By Tabitha Evans Moore | EDITOR & PUBLISHER

LYNCHBURG, Tenn. — Houston, you have a problem. And on Friday night in Lynchburg, that problem was the Raiders high-octane offense and lights out defense that earned them a convincing 48-0 first round playoff win. Moore County went up 42-0 at the half and earned a running clock in the third quarter. Moore County scored on seven of eight possessions and the defense shutout the Irish.

The win advances Moore County to a second round playoff game against Eagleville who beat West Carroll 37-6 on Friday. That game will take place in Lynchburg on Doug Price Field.

Moore County jumped out to a 21-0 first quarter lead

Houston County won the toss and deferred to the second half. Following the kick off return, the Raiders set up first and 10 at the 33 yard line.

It took just three plays to score. Raider QB and Mr. Football semifinalist Dawson White connected with Alex Copeland for a first down on their first play. White then called his own number to get to the 20. On the next down, White connected with Keller Morey on a long pass to give Moore County their first six. Jax Ross’s PAT gave the Raiders an early 7-0 lead over Houston County with just 40 seconds off the first quarter clock.

Houston County went three and out on their first series thanks to big plays by Isaac Petty, Eli Brown, and White. The Raiders regained possession at the 8:23 mark.

Moore County returned the punt to the 48, then Logan Hegwood picked up a quick six yards to make it second and four. White then ran the next play to the right side for a first down. Hegwood found space on the next play to get into the Irish red zone. Moore County got their third holding play on the next down to set up first and 20, then White connected with Morey to get back to second and eight. On third down, White threw a deep ball to Copeland for six and went back to Morey on the two-point conversion. Moore County led 14-0 with 6:57 to play in the first.

Back on defense, Coleman Phillips forced a play for a loss on the next Irish down as the sidelines chanted, “Eat ‘em’ up. Eat em’ up.” The Irish QB overthrew his receiver on the next down to make it third and 11, then connected to earn a fresh set of downs.

On first down, the Irish QB bobbled the snap and an eager Brown took advantage — tackling him in the backfield for a loss. On second and 19, Houston County got back to near the line of scrimmage to make it third and 11, then completed a pass on the next down, but Wes Clifton stopped it short of the line to gain. They punted on fourth and nine.

Moore County got possession back at the 2:55 mark and went to work. Hegwood ran right to get into a Houston County territory, then got stymied on the next play. On second and nine, White connected with Will Parker on a clutch pass. He evaded three tacklers and ran left — straight into the end zone. Ross’s PAT gave Moore County a 21-0 lead with less than two minutes to play in the first.

Houston County continued to struggle on the next series. Landon Smith and Brown tackled the Irish QB in the backfield for a four yard loss, then he overthrew his receiver on the next down to set up third and 14. With 13 seconds to play in the quarter, the Irish QB tripped over his own feet on the next down and they punted.

The first quarter ended; Moore County 21, Houston County 0.

Raiders shut out Irish in the second quarter

The Moore County offense continued the onslaught in the second quarter, while the Raider D refused to give an inch.

Moore County scored on the second play from scrimmage when a wide open Peyton Martin walked into the end zone for the TD. Ross’s PAT made it 28-0.

Raiders Bryson Carter and Brown swarmed the Irish kick off returner to set up first and 10 near the 20. On first down, Aiden Blair said “no sir” and stopped the hand off at the line. The Irish QB failed to connect on second and 10 thanks to lights out coverage by Morey, then gained short yardage on third down. A heads up play by Logan Cashion forced Houston County to punt.

Moore County then got back to work on offense. A false start call gave them first and 15 to start the series, then White fought for extra yards to make it second and one. He then threw a dime to Morey, who stiff-armed one defender before being tackled near the 25. On the next down, White spotted Copeland down the right side and connected for his third touchdown of the night. Ross’s PAT gave Moore County a 35-0 lead with 7:49 to play in the half.

The Irish again went three and out on the next series. Brown tackled the Irish QB in the backfield on first down, then Morey and Clifton tackled the receiver for no gain on the next down. On third and 10, the Irish QB tried to manage another high snap but not before Cashion could tackle him in the backfield for a loss. Houston County punted on four and 14.

Back on offense, Parker earned a quick four yards, then White rushed for the first down. Moore County struggled with penalties all night. A holding and false start call, reversed a beautiful catch by Cole Taylor to make it first and 25. Houston County earned their first penalty of the game on the next play, when the Irish defender failed to go for the ball while defending a pass to Morey to earn a pass interference penalty. On second and 10, Hegwood made a key catch into double coverage for the score. Ross’s PAT gave the Raiders a 42-0 lead.

Heads up plays by Blair, Hegwood, and Cashion kept Houston County out of the end zone to secure the first half shut out.

Moore County second string finishes strong

Moore County boasts depths this season, and the back ups came out strong in the second half — scoring the final touchdown of the game.

The Raiders kicked off the ball to start the third quarter, but the Irish coughed up the ball on first down and Moore County recovered. It took Logan Cashion just two plays to gain the last six points. The PAT went a little wide right. With 9:37 to play in the third. The Raiders led 48-0.

The second string also preserved the shut out. Coaches used senior James Laster to do the heavy lifting on quality run plays to keep the clock running while Cashion, Chris Merical, Bryson Carter, Tristin Gray, Landon Hegwood, and Ethan McElyea kept the Irish in check. Back up QB Gavin Wise also did a great job of managing the second half game clock.

Alex Copeland led for Moore County with three touchdowns for 18 points. Logan Hegwood, Will Parker, Peyton Martin, and Logan Cashion followed with a score each. Keller Morey managed a two-point conversion. Freshman kicker Jax Ross was five of six in PAT attempts.

Hegwood led in rushing yards with 64 followed by Dawson White with 48. Logan Cashion added 35 and Wes Clifton managed 26 yards. James Laster came in strong in the second half with 25. Back up QB Gavin Wise and Peyton Martin contributed 16 yards each.

In the receiving corps, Keller Morey led with 99 yards followed by both Alex Copeland and Will Parker with 68 yards each. Logan Hegwood added 33 more.

Mr. Football hopeful Dawson White put up 312 total yards of offense including 264 yards through the air and another 48 on the ground. Two other Raiders approached a 100-yard game: Keller Morey with 99 total yards and Logan Hegwood with 97 yards.

{Editrix Note: We’ll add defensive stats as soon as they are available.}

Moore County will move on to a second round game against Region 5A foe Eagleville on Friday in Lynchburg. Eagleville got the upset win over West Carrol 37-6 to earn a rematch with Moore County. Kick off on Friday will take place at Doug Price Field at 7 p.m. Tickets will be available for $8 in advance on the Go Fans app or online. Raider fans can also buy tickets at the gate for $10. If you can’t attend in person, the Moore County High School Student Broadcasting Team will live stream the game on the NFHS Network. The Times will also live blog the game on our Facebook page.•

{The Lynchburg Times is a nonpartisan, independent community newspaper serving Lynchburg, Tennessee and the surrounding counties. We are dedicated to public service journalism for the greater good of our community. Click here to subscribe.}